Abstract Influence diagrams have been used effectively in applied decision analysis to model complex systems, identify probabilistic dependence and characterize the flow of information. Their graphical representation and intuitive framework are particularly effective in representing knowledge from experts with diverse backgrounds and varying degrees of technical proficiency. They allow both a symbolic representation of the system interrelationships and a quantitative measure that can be of discrete or continuous functional form. By exploiting this abstraction hierarchy, successive degrees of specification can be made by several individuals, each encoding his or her expert knowledge of the problem and bounds on critical parameters. It is proposed that an interactive computer program that automates this influence diagram technology would provide an excellent tool for building expert systems. This paper describes such a modeling tool: the IDES (Influence Diagram Based Expert System) developed at the University of California at Berkeley as a modeling tool for building expert systems requiring reasoning with uncertain or incomplete information. The Diagnostician's Problem is presented as a tutorial for describing the IDES solution procedure.